I'm trying to decide on a warm (maybe 60 - 100g/m2), packable insulated jacket to take with me on backpacking trips (solo in some cases) deep into the Sierras or other remote, mountainous destinations. I know there is a lot of info on this and I've read a lot -- but I think it's to the point that the more I read the more conflicted I become.
I have traditionally leaned towards synthetic insulation for these sorts of applications. The scenario that I can't get past is me being caught in a cold rain/sleet storm or otherwise getting my gear wet (like falling into a creek), and being stuck in a very bad situation with useless wet down (as opposed to some synthetic that might keep me a bit warm and can be dried out in time to be useful). But I know down will be warmer for the weight and will hold up better over time, and there seem to be a lot more affordable down options. I'm reading other ways to look at it, so I think I need someone to set me straight.
So far, I do think I want something with a decently tough and water resistant shell so that I can skip bringing an outer hard shell. And I'm not looking to break the bank. Other than going to the mountains or visiting cold places in the winter on occasion, I will probably never use this jacket, so looking for good bang for my buck (at a good time to buy cheap cold weather gear). Also, I want it to have a hood.
If you're worried about down failing at the slightest hint of moisture, try washing your sleeping bag sometime in the bath tub. It is darn tough to "wet out" down. For the Sierra's I bring a cheap down coat I got off of Amazon. It is similar to the cheap down coats people buy from Costco (but I don't have a membership). Its light, packs small, and ~$40. Probably not as durable or as nicely sewed as something from one of the fancy manufacturers. I think the search terms I used was: "packable down jacket". Quite a few options at quite a few price ranges/star ratings.
Thanks. For the cheap down route, I might look at Uniqlo since I like their stuff and it's very affordable.
I should say that if I went on a trip today, the coat that I would take would be a Marmot Novus Hoody, which is a 40g/m2 synthetic fill jacket. It's pretty warm; I just wonder if it would be safer to have something warmer. But I would obviously want something warmer than that in order to buy something new.
For the eight years I lived at Lake Tahoe I had a down vest and a waterproof shell and they handled most situations. I had summer work so most of my hiking/backing trips at higher elevations around the lake were during the late summer and fall.